New Zealand and Turkey opened their FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 campaigns with a hard-fought 1-1 draw in Group B on a steamy evening in Navi Mumbai.
The Turks had the better of the first half, with Ahmed Kutucu’s headed goal from a corner their just reward. They could have opened the scoring as early as the sixth minute, but Melih Gokcimen failed to beat the goalkeeper on a breakaway and Atalay Babacan misfired on the rebound.
The Kiwis grew into the match after going behind, pressing well on either side of half-time. Their goal came from a bit of fast thinking just before the hour mark when Elijah Just took a quick free-kick and found a streaking Mata alone in the box.
Both teams traded narrow misses the rest of the way, but New Zealand went closest, as Charles Spragg fizzed a shot just over the crossbar with 15 minutes to go, and the impressive Just hit the post in the 83rd minute.
Mata then got his second yellow card for leading with an arm five minutes into second-half stoppage time.